• P A I N •

Five years ago TODAY my hubby asked me to marry him. As you may know he had the paparazzi hiding in the bushes taking pics of us the whole time- and I had NO IDEA! 🤣

If you would have told me 6 years ago that within the next 6 years I would be happily married with a 2 year spitfire of a little girl, running my own mom boss business from the comfort of my home I would have probably laughed right in your face.

Six years ago I was in the deepest darkest place I have ever been.

I was in an abusive relationship, feeling stuck, feeling alone, feeling like I wanted out but I didn’t know HOW to leave. I didn’t know how to admit to anyone that I had let it get so bad.

He had control of all my money, my cell phone, my credit cards, my bank account, he told me when I could go to work and when I couldn’t.

I wasn’t allowed to leave the house or go anywhere unless he was with me, not even to go to the grocery store. He put a tracking app on my phone so he knew where I was at all times.

I was a prisoner in his home.

How did it get that way?

It sure didn’t start out that way.

No one in their right mind would jump into that willingly.

He started out loving, caring and kind.

He sent me roses to my work almost weekly.

He held the car door open for me.

He told me I was beautiful.

Then slowly it started to change.

The fun happy loving person changed into a horrible, controlling, mean, manipulating, abusive man. That still sent me flowers to work, to make himself look good- and to confuse me. CONFUSION is an abusers best friend.

I eventually got out.

But I had to take the steps to get out.

I had to get uncomfortable and admit what was going on.

I had to reach out and tell someone and ask for help.

This was not something I could do alone.

God sent me two amazing women, that helped me leave that horrible situation.

To this day I literally owe my life to them.

He got me home safe to my moms house.

He sent me to live with my cousin, who opened her home and let me live with her and her family rent free so I could get back on my feet.

She invited me to church, where I found my purpose and my passion.

She helped me find a job.

She helped me get on a budget so I could get out of debt & save money.

Because of her I accepted Jesus as my savior & was baptized.

God orchestrated all of that for me.

But I had to take the actions of accepting the help.

I had to give in and let others help me.

Then God sent me Dallas.

He knew I needed him.

He knew I needed a patient loving kind man, who supported me and loved me though my healing progress. Even when I was hard to deal with, even when things got bad, even when I lost all hope in myself, doubting that I would ever heal.

Dallas stayed, he told me I would get better- and he believed what he said.

He believed in me even when I didn’t.

My cousin believed in me even when I didn’t.

My friends believed in me even when I didn’t.

My family believed in me even when I didn’t.

If you are in a place in your life where you feel stuck, you feel like there is no way out. I’m here to tell you there is.

But you HAVE to take action.

You can’t sit there WISHING something will change.

You have to WORK for the change.

It won’t be EASY,

But take it from me,

It will be WORTH it.

You will have to step out of your comfort zone and do scary things.

I always thought that leaving the abusive relationship was the hardest thing I had ever done, but it wasn’t-

It was actually the SCARIEST thing I have ever done.

Staying in that relationship was the HARDEST thing I have ever done.

There are two types of pain in this world

The pain of discipline &

The pain of regret.

Don’t regret not trying,

That’s the most painful pain of all.

Judge-y Judgerton

I’d like to think of my self as a pretty non-judgmental person.

Not much surprises me anymore, as I have been though the ringer in life.

I’m very willing to give people the benefit of the doubt based upon life’s circumstances.

I’ll see a kid screaming in the grocery store and instead of rolling my eyes, like my 20 year old self would have done, I say to myself, “oh that poor mama has probably had a rough day.” If we happen to make eye contact I’ll say “Oh my little one does the EXACT SAME THING, hang in there mama it will get better!”

But something happened when I got down here on vacation in Naples. I became super self conscious and kinda judgmental towards the people here. I literally had to snap myself out of it yesterday.

People here have more money than they know what to do with!

I have never seen so many Porches, Range Rovers, Bentleys, Maseratis, or Teslas in one place!

Everyone is so put together. Their make-up is all done up, beautifully styled hair & the women are dressed to the 9’s in bright colorful beach clothing.

I’m over here still in hibernation mode, pasty white legs (which are now sunburnt) and pretty muted, not very colorful clothing. Along with my HUGE wavy frizzy, beach hair & don’t even get me started on the humidity, putting on makeup is the LAST thing I want to do!!

I quickly felt out of place.

I kept thinking to myself, people are probably starring at me & making fun of me. It started to really get to me.

It brought me back to a time in my life where I didn’t like myself very much. Always trying to please others, do what society expected, or what others told me I should be doing, instead of doing what just made me comfortable & happy.

All the girls are in their cute little bikinis and I’m over here in my mom tankini, thinking- “ugh!! I should have brought a different swim suit. You know, that cute little one, the one where the second I get up & move around,

I fall out of it & flash people! Yeah, that one.” Then I sigh and remind myself how extremely comfortable my mom tankini is- and how I don’t have to worry about flashing people in it.

I got really angry getting dressed yesterday, Which rarely happens to me anymore. I have gotten really good at dressing & shopping for my body type. Not to mention, where I currently live- Hancock MI- The style for the last 8 months has literally been jeans, a hoodie, Sorrels and a warm coat!

That is what everyone wears and that is honestly what I have felt most comfortable in. I think went through a bit of a culture shock here!

I yelled out to my hubby, who was anxiously waiting for me to get ready-

I have NOTHING to wear. (Not true)

NOTHING fits me anymore! (Not true)

I HATE my body! (Not true)

NOTHING fits my chest , it drives me crazy!! I can’t find ANY cute flattering clothes that don’t show off my cleavage!! I WANT A BREAST REDUCTION!!!!! (Eh, Somewhat True)

Then the REAL truth came screaming out – literally.

“The people down here make me feel bad about myself!

I feel like they are judging me, & making fun of me behind my back.

I feel frumpy! I feel out of place, I DON’T BELONG HERE!”

My hubby, the amazing person that he is – says,

“Well, lets just go shopping! I’ll help you pick out a few pieces of clothing that will look good here and back home!’

Me: “I have NOTHING TO WEAR TO THE MALL TO GO SHOPPING!!!”

Obviously, I was being ridiculous. But it is how I felt at the time.

Isn’t it funny how a change in the environment can make your perception of the world around you change? I went back to the girl that I was in my 20’s. That self conscious girl who worried what others thought. That girl who wanted to be just like everyone else. That girl who didn’t want to get looked at for being out of place. But the TRUTH is-

I AM OUT OF PLACE HERE.

And that’s OKAY!

We aren’t rich.

We don’t have enough money to buy a Maserati.

We don’t wear fancy schmancy clothes.

It’s not who we are.

I like who we are.

I had to remind myself of that!

I like our little Honda Accord

I like my jeans, flip flops, & T-shirts.

I’m comfortable that way!

I had to give myself a little pep talk, “JANET, JUST BE YOU!”

And those people that I THOUGHT were judging me.

Who cares what they think? I reminded myself that I don’t base my self worth and self esteem on what others opinions of me are. I base my self worth on who God says I am.

I was judging them. Thinking that they were probably thinking that they are better than me. But in reality, are they? Are they thinking that? Just because they dress a little nicer? Probably not. And if they are? Who cares! Were they judging me? Who knows?

But I do know ONE thing –

I was being the judgey one.

I was judging that they were judging me.

Don’t let the things that you PERCEIVE, that others are THINKING make you CHANGE who you are. YOU ARE YOU. You are the only you. You are the youiest you there is! Your differences, your personality & your style are what make you stand out! They make you unique. Don’t let any one dim that because of your desire to fit in someone else’s parameters.

If you need me, I’ll be over here, ENJOYING my time at the beach in my gym shorts, tank top and flip flops. Me- just being ME!

Transformation

I was searching though my pictures for a Transformational Thursday post on Facebook and I’ve posted these pics before BUT I just wanted to share them again!

WHY?

There are just 8 WEEKS in between these two photos!

8 weeks is just 2 short months.

2 months from today is June 4th.

☀️ OFFICIALLY SUMMER! ☀️

💁🏼‍♀️ So what made the difference between these two pictures?

• It wasn’t my DIET or NUTRITION.

• It wasn’t WORKING OUT more or less.

Surprised??

I know as a health coach you would expect me to say I just ate better and worked out & boom the weight fell off!

BUT there was actually an underlying health issue (well several in fact) that I had been unknowingly battling for years.

We took our chances due to some of my symptoms, and had an exploratory laparoscopic surgery just a few days after that first picture was taken.

The doctor was able to officially diagnose & remove a condition/disease called ENDOMETRIOSIS.

1 out of 10 women have this condition and it often takes YEARS to get a proper diagnosis- if it’s ever diagnosed at all.

It also has a high percentage of reoccurring.

After the removal of the Endometriosis something crazy happened

My HORMONES were finally balanced,

The PUFFINESS went away,

The EXTRA WEIGHT went away,

The PURE EXHAUSTION went away,

The BLOATING went away,

I mean look at the difference in my stomach!

I was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease,

Interstitial Cystitis, which is a super painful bladder condition,

AND a bacterial infection in my uterus,

ALL at the same time.

🤦🏼‍♀️NO WONDER I was in so much pain!!

We cut out gluten & soy, I got instill treatments for my bladder (which has to be repeated several times a year) and in a few weeks time the horrible stomach cramps that would leave me double over in pain stopped.

🤷🏼‍♀️ WHATS MY POINT?

Sometimes, No matter how hard you work out or how perfect your diet is –

There may be something going on in your body that you don’t even know about

OR something that you have zero control over until you get a proper diagnosis!

👉🏼YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST.

If you feel like something is off or just isn’t feeling right.

You NEED to be your own advocate and fight.

It took me YEARS to get someone to take me seriously & get the proper diagnosis!

💁🏼‍♀️Do you have or have you had any medical conditons that have made it hard for you to get to where you want to be?

How have you been able to recognize them and overcome them?

Massage Retreat

😳 I’ve been so busy toddler-proofing I totally forgot to mention something HUGE happening this week!!! 🙌🏼

👉🏼 I’m headed out to OCEAN CITY, MD on Thursday to provide MASSAGES at Retreat for the LADIES at @The Crossing Church !!

As some of you know – I lived out on the East Coast for about 12 years. I owned my own Massage Therapy business & my friend Stephanie asked if I would consider doing massages for the ladies at a retreat for her church years ago. 💆🏼

I’m pretty sure the first year I turned her down, because I was worried about being around “church people.” Sigh.

But a year later, I eventually I said yes- thinking it would be a great way to make some extra cash and get my name out about my business.

They put us up in a fancy hotel & invited me to take part in their Bible Study and other activities while I was there,

But at that time God was not a huge part of my life.

In fact He was probably the last thing on my mind.

I kindly turned them down, I didn’t want to take part in the extra things at the retreat- BUT I did massages for the ladies all weekend & really enjoyed myself!! I remember going home feeling so full & refreshed just from speaking with all of them!

Little did I know, that one weekend years ago would plant a seed in my heart that would take YEARS and YEARS to grow. 🌸 They invited me back year after year to do massages. The demand got so high I had to invite another therapist to come with me!! There were just too many ladies for me to massage by myself in one weekend!

I invited one of my favorite massage therapists & dear friend, Carolyn to come along with me. She brought her Bible & took part in the studies and other fun things they had planned. I just hung out, rested & slept in my room in between massages. The ladies still welcomed me, made me feel comfortable, wanted and cared for-

Again, I went home feeling full & refreshed!!

⏭ Fast forward a few years-

I moved back home after literally fleeing the state from an abusive relationship. Moved in with my cousins, who invited me to church. And BOOM the sermon hit me between the eyes that day- I was hooked. I knew something needed to change.

I always felt like something was missing on my life-

Little did I know that it was ME missing out on God’s purpose and plan for my life! I poured my heart into church, learning as much as I could. I went to counseling, which helped me to heal- and even participated in a bible study, where I met Dallas & we got married 10 months later. 😉

Carolyn called me the year after Dallas and I got married to see if I could possibly fly out and do massages again- I was IN! 🙌🏼 But this time I was so excited to be ALL IN!

During my layover in Chicago I received a text message from Dawn, the coordinator for the retreat, asking if I would share my story of my past and why I decided to go to church with the group! 😬 Little did she know, I was PETRIFIED of public speaking, but I said yes anyway, knowing deep down in my heart that God would have wanted me to share it.

I got so NERVOUS about sharing my story,

I got sick- and not just a little sick- I got SICK SICK. 🤢

I got so sick I couldn’t even do the last day of massages, we had to find another therapist to fill in for me.

I couldn’t even get up out of bed. SICK.

But I was bound & determined to share my story.

I wasn’t going to let the enemy win.

So – with Steph & Carolyn by my side for moral support (and with a garbage can in case I puked) I shared my past story for the first time ever with about 80 women.

I cried, they cried, we all cried!!!

They were so supportive, kind and understanding- even during my nervous shaking voice.

The feeling that I got from sharing my story is something I can’t describe.

It’s a vulnerable relief sort of something.

It’s that something that keeps me going.

It’s that something that drives me to continually share my past, present & future.

I want others to see that there is a light at the end of that dark long tunnel,

You don’t have to feel or be stuck,

There is a way out,

There is HOPE.

There is ALWAYS HOPE. ❤️

💁🏼‍♀️ So this weekend, I get to volunteer my time by providing massages & care for these women that care so much for me.

👉🏼 This time, there are so many women coming that we have to bring 3 massage therapists with us! I’m even told there are already ladies REQUESTING me to be their therapist! (Hope they know I haven’t given a real massage in about 2 years🤪)

I am SO EXCITED to volunteer my time for these ladies!!

I can’t wait to take part in the retreat this year & participate in everything it has to offer-

Including the Bible Study! 😘

Bitter to Better

HOPE.

“We don’t have HOPE just because-

Jesus was a good teacher,

A prophet,

A miracle worker,

A healer.

The ONE and only reason we have HOPE is because he was resurrected from the dead. He came back to life to prove his love for us.”

~ Paraphrased from Pastor Levi at Easter Service this morning.

1 Peter 3:15 in the Bible says,

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.”

My answer?

My hope?

Is Jesus.

Why?

Because I fully believe with 100% of my whole entire being that He saved me from my past & from an abusive relationship that would have eventually lead to my death.

I truly and honestly believe if I didn’t get out the day that I left, the day I literally fled the state while my abuser was at work, drove half way across the country to my family, I guarantee you I wouldn’t be here today. I know thats hard for some of you to hear. But it’s the honest truth.

I didn’t even know if I believed in God at that time. Well, I believed there was a God, but I don’t think I believed that He could do anything for me, or maybe I thought I had messed up too much for Him to take the time to help me. I didn’t think I deserved help because of the choices I had made.

But- He gave me enough strength to ASK for help. I didn’t even know what type of help I needed. I don’t even know what I said when I called for help. But God sent me 2 special friends who came to my rescue, they knew the type of help I needed. They got me out quickly & safely. I believe He rescued me so I could share my personal story of HOPE.

God guided me home safely & provided a smooth easy path. I drove a U-haul towing my car all by myself over 1,200 miles home to my mom- who had no idea I was coming.

If you know me, you might know that I have an eye condition that prevents me from seeing depth properly. I have no depth perception in my right eye, my eyes do not work together as a team & have a tendency to cross so, I see double a lot- especially when I’m tired and stressed.

For me to safely judge turns (like those around Chicago) with a huge truck towing a car was legit a modern day miracle in itself.

I remember being so scared driving all alone. I repeatedly said out loud to God & to myself, “Please, please I beg you just get me home safely, don’t let me hit anything or hurt anyone. Please just get me home safe.”

And guess what? He got me home safely.

Once I arrived to my moms house, I didn’t have a job, no money, no place to live but their spare bedroom. I didn’t have anything to my name- but I was SAFE.

I lived on auto pilot trying to get things squared away, accounts closed, passwords changed, address forwarded, my name taken joint accounts & bills and I tried to figure out my new life, what my new normal would look like. I honestly can’t remember that first month or two home. I was in shock.

I eventually moved to my hometown of Sioux Falls and in with my cousins. They so graciously offered to let me stay in their spare bedroom in the basement. They took me in as one of their own, treating me like I belonged, like I was instantly a part of their family, asking nothing in return. They wanted to help me get back on my feet & help me thrive.

My cousin invited me to Church, repeatedly. I turned her down a few times-

Then one day I decided to go, mostly to get her off my back- haha, But I really was genuinely curious as to why she liked it so much. Growing up I wasn’t ever really excited to go to church. I also felt like I owed it to God since He got me home safely.

The sermon that day was on being held hostage by bitterness.

Link to listen to sermon here:

https://ransom.church/sermons/hostage-to-bitterness/

I felt like it was directed right at me,

I felt like I was the only person in the auditorium that day.

Like there was literally a spotlight shining on me, the Pastor knew EXACTLY what I needed to hear that day.

I was a very bitter person.

Bitter at the abuse.

Bitter at my choices that lead me to that relationship & others.

Bitter at my abusers- yes there were several.

Bitter at myself. Just bitter.

And that bitterness was killing me.

From then on I worked hard,

Learning more about Jesus & His teachings,

More about the Bible,

More about what it really meant to have a relationship with Jesus.

More about Forgiveness.

I started listening to sermons and pod casts online.

I tuned in to the Christian radio station instead of my normal station.

I surrounded my self with POSITIVE people.

People who wanted nothing from me but for me to be the best version of myself.

This was the first time in my life that I felt like no one was out to get me, no one was trying to take advantage of me, make fun of me, or lower my self esteem.

They really wanted to help me succeed.

I went from BITTER

To BETTER.

I’m not perfect.

Im far from it, but that’s why I need Jesus.

I have moments where I have flashbacks and I let the past get the best of me. I get angry and mad.

But FAITH is a journey not a destination.

I’m always growing & changing.

Always willing to learn.

I am confident in knowing where I can turn for hope & for help.

So this Easter Sunday I ask you,

Do you have hope?

What is the reason for your hope?

Featured

Tattoo Testimony

I did not make the decision to get a tattoo lightly. The reception of my new tattoo wasn’t taken lightly either!

Reactions varied from, Oh that’s so awesome! To was that what you really wanted? To mild shock, and some people were even disappointed in me.

The most surprising reactions came from other Christians like myself. Some coming right out telling me I would lose my salvation if I got a tattoo.

The most common verse quoted to me was Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”

Others have told me that my body was not my own, that it belonged to God and I had no right to alter his masterpiece. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I guess we have to ask ourselves-

What does the Bible really say about tattoos?

When we look back at the Old Testament laws, we must do so through the understanding of the customs & rituals of that specific time period.

God gave the command about tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) to the Israelites around 1444 B.C. Right after the parting of the Red Sea, to forbid them from practicing the idolatrous customs they had picked up while they were being held captive by the Egyptians.

Their captors, the Egyptians, had a custom of slashing themselves to express grief & to appease their idols & gods. They also tattooed their bodies with symbols of pagan gods.

So God, basically said to the Israelites, I don’t want you to practice those silly superstitions. You ARE my people & I love you. So, you don’t need to do that to yourself anymore.

The HEART of God’s message isn’t about the tattoos, but it’s about reminding the Israelites that they belong to Him and there is no need for those rituals anymore.

In the New Testament, Jesus gave us a new way to understand the law. He actually fulfilled the law for us (Matthew 5:17-20). Jesus completed the requirements of the law (those rules written back in Leviticus) because God knew we could never live up to them. Because of Jesus, we have a repaired relationship with God (Romans 10:4-13).

If Christians today adhered to the legit literal application of every ceremonial rule & law handed down to the Israelites, No one would be able to –

• Eat shrimp or hamburgers (Leviticus 11)

• Mothers would be considered “unclean” after childbirth which means 40 days of separation from society after a boy, and even twice as long after a girl. (Leviticus 12) (now that I’m thinking about it would actually be amazing to put that law back in place!)

• Menstruating women would have to separate from friends and family for 7 to 10 days during that time of month (Leviticus 15)

• You wouldn’t be allowed to shave your beard or cut your hair. (Leviticus 19)

• Etc…

So is Getting a Tattoo a Sin?

It depends on how you look at it I guess.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is a great verse to read when considering a tattoo:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

The most important question to ask is,

“Will me getting a tattoo honor God?”

The tattoo I picked is a portion of a bible verse. Genesis 50:20, “ you intended to harm me; but God intended it all for good.”

I purposefully & prayerfully put my tattoo on my right forearm. So, when I shake peoples hands they will notice it & hopefully ask me about it. It will allow me to have deeper conversations about my past & my faith with people I normally wouldnt get an opportunity to share Jesus with.

People who would NEVER ask me about my FAITH, will ask me about my TATTOO.

I can share how Christ provided a way out of my abusive relationship & how He helped me recover from it.

How He gave me his strength & hope to travel half way across the country by myself without any money, no job and no place to live to escape my abuser.

How He handpicked & saved my husband specifically for me, so I would be able to experience a healthy marriage.

How He brought us though infertility and provided a way to have a family.

How He remained strong for us while I was fighting for my life in the hospital with sepsis.

That no matter how hard the things we go though that God will work it out for good.

It’s a reminder that my enemy will always try to harm me, and will try to find any way he can to stop me from sharing my faith & story.

If your motives are to glorify His work in your life (Romans 14:23), then a tattoo can be an excellent conversation starter and tool to use!

Just as we are commanded to do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), we can view the act of tattooing in the same manner.

The Old Testament law no longer binds Christians. Avoiding tattoo parlors, not eating shrimp or hamburgers and refusing to cut your hair doesn’t make you righteous-

Your acceptance of Jesus does!

His death and resurrection do!

While yes, you should honor God and remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16), you don’t have to let other people’s sense of religious rules constrain you from the truth.

Our Muse

She is a rebel soul,

Who lives in her own state of

beautiful anarchy.

You see my dear friends,

Wild Hearts?

They can not be broken-

And you just can’t tame,

Those souls who are

meant to be free.

Amber Dawn;

You are our muse,

You are our poetry.

Giving the eulogy at my childhood friends funeral was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Something I never ever imagined I would have to do.

Depression is a horrible indescribable disease.

It’s something that those of you that don’t suffer from it can’t possibly understand.

It doesn’t care if you are a good mother, an amazing wife, a beautiful daughter or a fun friend. Amber was all of these things are more. It is an overwhelming darkness that can come at you out of nowhere and knock you down harder that you ever have been before. One minute you are fine and the next its a full blow sucker punch to the face. It’s that whisper in the back of your head, gently tapping on your shoulder telling you that you will never be enough.

I’ve been asked several times if I was mad at her or if I thought what she did was selfish. No.

I don’t think my friend was selfish.

She was the exact opposite of selfish.

She cared too much.

She worried too much.

She held the weight of the world on her shoulders and she trudged though the mud – trying to do it all herself, trying to be strong all by herself, not wanting to burden others with her problems. She trudged on trying to be the strong one until the weight eventually broke her.

She was far too strong for far too long.

I’m not mad at my dear friend –

I’m heartbroken.

My heart aches because she hurt so badly.

My spirit is crushed because she felt that the world would be better off without her in it.

Maybe you feel like she felt. that the things you have done or are doing are far too much to be forgiven.

Or that feeling that you will never be enough,

that you will never be able to do enough,

or fix enough.

Please know there is Hope.

The hope I have is not a wish or a dream.

The hope I have is a solid assurance.

An assurance that we are all loved and all forgiven for the things we have done, are doing or will do.

Grace is a free gift given to anyone, you just have to be willing to accept it.

You may make mistakes, but please know-

YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE.

Please help me honor my friend and help others by taking a few mins and watch my eulogy at her service.

It’s on my Facebook page and should be public. I can’t figure out how to upload it here- but will do so as soon as I can.

You have my permission to share.

Janet’s Eulogy for Amber ❤️

If you know anyone that has struggled or is struggling with depression- Or- if you or anyone you know has been affected by suicide or depression-

Please like, comment, tag them in it, share this post and share this video with them.

There is always hope.

Someone can always help.

You are not too far gone.

You are not a burden.

Suicide National Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Online Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

Both Available 24/7

Janet’s Eulogy for Amber ❤️

Relationships, Grace & Hope.

I don’t even have the words.

This one hit way to close to home for me.

Way to close. Way to personal.

And not just because I lost my first ever best friend.

But because- that could have easily been me.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt that pain, it’s a horrible dark pain.

It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t even comprehend myself.

It’s a pain that doesn’t care who you are, if you are a good mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend – it has no preference.

It doesn’t care that you are happy, bubbly, unique and original on the outside.

It’s a pain that no one truly can see because the bearer of the pain hides it ever so well- and pretends that everything is fine.

It’s a deep dark sad place.

The fact that our friend felt so bad, that the pain consumed her so much, that she felt like there was no where else to turn, rocks me to my core and makes my heart ache like it never has before. I am truly heartbroken.

I feel like all we ever share on Facebook is our good moments, our highlight reel. Which is great, of course I want to celebrate the good, and I want others to succeed and be happy. But I also want you to know its okay to be real. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to need help.

I do try my best to be honest and transparent with my life on here, but often times when we publicly share struggles or state that we have a chronic illness or are suffering with mental health issues we are often brushed off or labeled as seeking attention.

It’s so hard to know how much to really share and how much to hold back.

Wanting to be oh so real – but not too negative or too needy.

We are so overly connected with technology, media, status, and checking in on peoples virtual lives, that we often overlook the real connections in our lives.

How many times have you been in a restaurant and have seen an entire table of people staring at their phones. We are right there in front of people but we aren’t THERE. So consumed with checking in seeing how everyone else is doing online that we don’t even acknowledge the people right there in front of us. I’m guilty of it. I do it all the time.

We just assume that people read our facebook status, Insta-stories & snapchats so that when we pass by in real life –

We often offer a trivial, “hi how are you- I’m good, you? Eh, I’m busy, but good.” Small chit chat and chatter. And then we move along, being our busy selfs – without ever really asking the deeper questions.

We don’t take the time to truly get to know one another anymore.

We are so busy and so consumed with life, plans and other things, that we forget to connect, we forget to form a bond and a forget to build relationship. Life is all about relationships – and we are losing them to our phones.

Most of you know that I struggle with my mental health, depression, anxiety and major PTSD from an abusive relationship.

Maybe most of you know, maybe most of you don’t know?

I’m currently partaking in a mental health study with the University of Michigan. It aims to work with people struggling with PTSD and/or bipolar depression.

But I don’t often talk about how hard it is to truly live day to day with it.

I don’t really share with you how much it really affects and impacts our daily life.

How hard it is on my husband to know that he can’t do anything to “fix me.”

I don’t share the mundane in and the outs because I’m afraid that people will get sick and tired of hearing about how much I struggle every day.

The stuff you see me post about my workouts & nutrition is part of what I do during my day, but it’s not my full day. It’s usually the happiest part of my day. So it’s why I talk about it so much, it’s why I post about it so much.

My day is filled with mess, chaos, screaming at my child, crying because she’s so stinking stubborn, throwing my hands up in the air saying enough is enough!

Questioning if I am a good mother.

Questioning if God made a mistake in making me a mother.

Asking my husband if he thinks that he would be better off without me.

What if I just left him and Jade?

I feel like such a burden to them and that maybe he could find someone else that would do a better job of meeting his needs.

These are the types of things that run though my mind. ALL. THE. TIME.

I have flashbacks. Not so many now. It’s been 6 years since I left, and I can’t believe I still have them. Vivid ones. Terrifying ones – that leave me in such a panic that I wake up wondering if I’m back in PA? Back in the abuse? Wondering if my current reality is just a dream.

There are times when Dallas will unknowingly do something to trigger thoughts or feelings of my past, and I get angry, I snap and I’m mean.

It’s not his fault, sometimes I don’t even know all of my own triggers.

He hasn’t done anything bad to me, but he ends up taking the brunt of it all. We are working on this. But it’s a struggle.

The feelings of insecurity creeep back in.

The feelings of, “Am I ever going to be good enough?” Seep though.

The feelings of “I don’t ever do anything right” and that I’m a bad person come back.

The feelings that I don’t deserve Dallas, that he is “too good” for me.

They are uncontrollable.

Even when I tell myself, that they aren’t true.

There is such a stigma attachted to mental health.

The kind of stigma of, “Well its just your thoughts and feelings, so change them.” “Just change it.” “You shouldn’t feel that way. “

Friends, I wish it was that easy. If it was, then no one would struggle.

Like I said, even my own husband (who is a saint, mind you) doesn’t understand it, or what I’m going though.

He doesn’t understand why I’m depressed because I currently legit have no reason to be.

I’m out of the abuse and I know I’ll never be treated like that ever again.

I’m with someone who loves me, unconditionally.

After struggling with infertility for just a year we had our little miracle baby.

He has a great job and is able to make enough money so I can stay home and care for our little girl.

I don’t have to work, even though I choose to, because I’m passionate about and love what I do.

I have had some major health issues the past few years, but we seem to always make it thought them okay.

He feels like he should be able to fix me by loving me enough.

By just telling me that I’m safe, that I’m fine and he’s here to protect me.

It makes him feel like a failure.

And it breaks my heart.

I wish I had the perfect answer my friends.

I wish I had a cure that could just fix it all.

But I don’t.

What I do have is HOPE.

That is what keeps me going.

Hope that the past abuse and trauma that I went though from age 14 on up to age 30 has made me stronger. It has made me the person I am today.

It has shaped and defined who I am. And I am proud of all that I have overcome.

Hope that when I share my story and my struggles that it might help just one person be brave. Just one person to say, if she did it then I can do it.

One person to say, I see you struggle but I also see that you are succeeding though the struggle.

I have the compassion, empathy and understanding to help others going though hardships- because I have been there myself. It’s a unique gift, that makes people feel super comfortable talking to me. It’s a gift that I have that makes others feel safe in knowing that I will not ever judge them.

I have hope in knowing that by sharing my struggles it helps others know that they are not alone.

My hope is in Jesus,

He saved me from my horrible past, my mistakes, my bad choices-

And I know that he can save anyone. And that He wants to save everyone.

He’s not asking you to be perfect my friends,

Perfection is impossible.

He’s just asking you to put your faith and trust in Him,

To follow his ways, his teachings, what he taught.

To try to grow, to work on yourself, and to get better daily.

There will always be setbacks.

Life is a journey. Filled with ups and downs.

There are no straight A’s.

No Perfect 10.

He grades you by Grace.

So give yourself a little Grace today,

And show some Grace & Love to those around you.

You never truly know what someone is battling.

Blessings to you my friends.

If you ever feel like you need any type of help, please reach out.

To me, to a friend, to a loved one, to a stranger.

Promise me that you will reach out and get help.

There is ALWAYS help.

There is ALWAYS HOPE.

Jesus Didn’t Ask You to GIVE UP Coffee for Lent

Thank goodness right?

I’ll let you read that AGAIN to yourself aloud this time.

Jesus DID NOT ask YOU to give up Coffee for Lent.

He did, however, ask you to give up one thing.

He asked you to give up yourself, and follow him.

For those of you not familiar with the Lent Season. It is a 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. It is supposed to mark a time of humility, repentance, peace, self denial and soul searching.

As one is SUPPOSED to take this time to DRAW NEAR to Christ during this time. It is modeled after Christ’s 40 day fast in the desert and ends on Good Friday.

Do you Observe Lent?

Are you giving something this year?

Do you know WHY? Like the REAL reason why?

I love the idea & concept of Lent. Especially as a Health & Wellness coach, as most people give up their unhealthy food and try to exercise more! Which in itself is a wonderful thing to do for your body.

But why are you doing this? Do you even know?

Basically you are giving up something for 40 days that you enjoy, or depend on, something that you are addicted to- Like coffee, chocolate or social media.

But most people leave out THE ONLY ONE IMPORTANT reason of why they are practicing Lent. It can be so easy to fall into the religious practice of just doing something for the reason of doing something. To check off that box. Or because everyone else is doing it, or because your pastor suggested that you to do it. Or because people will tell you it will better your life if you do it. That’s all well and good- BUT

Are you truly practicing Lent if you are only giving something up-

just for the sake of giving something up?

What about the REAL meaning behind Lent?

Lent is supposed to SHIFT your FOCUS and draw you closer to Jesus.

Is giving up that cup of coffee, or that piece chocolate or an hour of social media REALLY nurturing your relationship with Jesus? I mean really?

In other words, I can only imagine if God was standing in front of me today he would say-

“Janet, I didn’t ask you to give up that cup of coffee so you could whine and complain all day about how much you need caffeine to survive. Or so you could roll your eyes and say no thank you, I can’t have that today, I gave it up for Lent.

NO!! I didn’t ask you that.

I asked you to give up your life,

I asked you to give up your ways,

I asked you to give up your control,

& I asked you to GIVE your life to me. I asked you to FOLLOW me.

All I want is for you to give up your old ways, and follow mine.”

This is what Jesus wants from us. It’s that simple folks.

If giving up that cup of coffee will make you focus on Jesus during the time that you would normally drink that cup, then you are on the right track.

If giving up that chocolate addiction makes you go out for a walk and have a conversation with God for a half hour, then you are on the right track.

If giving up an hour of social media during the day makes you pull out your Bible & Devotional and spend time praying & journaling for an hour, then you are on the right track.

For me, I don’t want to think of Lent as a season of GIVING UP.

I want to think of it as a season of GROWTH, GIVING IN and GIVING TO.

In what ways am I more compelled to GIVE IN to the ways of God?

How am I more deeply GIVING TO those around me?

How am I GROWING IN my stewardship towards others?

How am I GIVING IN to more mercy?

How can I BE MORE humble?

How are you GIVING IN to the GRACE of God this Lent Season?

The GRACE that provides us ALL a life of salvation?

How are you giving up your OLD WAYS and your OLD SELF,

And FOLLOWING His?

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24

“For even the Son Of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

“He who has found his own life will lose it, And he who has lost his own life for my sake will find it”  Matthew 10:39

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have not received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will no be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:16-18

So, during this time of Lent I will be working on giving up on myself & my old ways to grow deeper in my relationship and understanding of Christ, to grow in showing love and kindness to others, and to follow in His ways.